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Florida Fifth DCA rules that four-year negligence statute of limitations in child sex abuse case began running on date of abuse rather than later date of discovery

On May 18, 2018, in R.R. and S.B. v. New Life Community Church of CMA, Inc., No. 5D16-4149, the Florida Fifth DCA issued a per curiamruling affirming a trial’s court’s summary judgment in favor of the defendant in a negligence lawsuit brought against the employer of an individual accused of sexually abusing the child. The Fifth DCA indicated that it was compelled to affirm because of the four-year negligence statute of limitations outlined in section 95.11(3)(a), (p), Florida Statutes (1996). The underlying issue was whether the statute of limitations commenced running at the time of the alleged conduct or upon the subsequent discovery of the abuse. The Fifth DCA aligned itself with the Second DCA, which ruled in D.H. ex rel. R.H. v. Adept Community Services, Inc., 217 So. 3d 1072, 1077-80 (Fla. 2d DCA 2017) that since the general negligence statute of limitations contains no “discovery” provision, the limitations period must be construed to commence with the tortious conduct. The Court certified conflict with Doe v. Nur-Ul-Islam Academy, Inc., 217 So. 3d 85, 90 (Fla. 4th DCA 2017), and Drake ex rel. Fletcher v. Island Community Church, Inc., 462 So. 2d 1142, 1144 (Fla. 3d DCA 1984).

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